Firms Urged to Exploit Innovation and Protect the Planet

Local firms heard today how they can play a crucial role in safeguarding the environment while growing their business if they focus on innovation, at the latest event to take place as part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Innovation Week 21-24 March.

Held at the Ecos Centre in Ballymena, the seminar entitled ‘Waste: Energy – Vision and Reality’ focused on environmental issues for businesses, and how innovative technologies can reduce the impact of industry by using waste to produce energy. The event also highlighted how industry can actually protect the environment by creating new products and collaborating to effectively deal with waste and energy issues.

Invest NI believes that Northern Ireland businesses can take advantage of these opportunities if they adapt quickly and develop sustainable business ideas.

“Taxes on environmentally unfriendly processes have risen to encourage the efficient use of resources in industry, but we must realise that such change provides new opportunities in the research and development of environmentally focused technologies,” said Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development.

“By embracing innovation, many companies and individuals around the world have taken environmental problems, and produced solutions including products such as wave energy generators, wind turbines and solar panels. Some innovative local companies have already succeeded in these areas but we need more to follow their example so we can seek solutions that benefit the environment and facilitate profitable growth for companies in global markets.

“That’s why, at this event we are encouraging companies to take their environmental responsibilities seriously whilst helping them realise the potential commercial opportunities that innovation can deliver.”

Delegates heard from George Dawson of the Arena Network; Peter Laybourn, National Industrial Symbiosis Programme; Bill Watts, a key player in the Low Carbon Design Initiative with the Carbon Trust NI; and Frank Hardwick and Don Ridley from the Environment Agency’s Waste Technology Data Centre.  

The speakers covered topics including zero emissions building design, ecological footprinting and resource efficiency (Industrial Symbiosis). An open forum then provided more than 70 delegates with an opportunity to discuss these areas in more detail and explore the potential which exists to develop sustainable commercial opportunities in areas such as energy.